Startup Watch: Funerals, Telegram breach, and InstaSnap Feud

The world of entrepreneurship news is a complex one, with people ever ready to give their two cents on how you should be running your business. Here’s our wrap of what we’re reading on f-f-f-failure, global trends, cyber security, digital drama, and a little something to lighten the end of the working week.

We begin this week with black clothes, smeared mascara and obituaries. But this time, it’s not your grandmother. It’s your business venture. A growing trend in the US and Europe has entrepreneurs holding funerals for their failed business deals. The speeches aren’t just about remembrance, but also about the lessons learned for the attending mourners in the room. While celebrating failure is nothing new, perhaps a coffin is just a tad much. That said, we’d definitely attend one, perhaps hosted in Marissa Mayer’s office?


Woman at funeral. [Image via shutterstock]

Saudi Arabia is under attack. The country is seeing “160,000 offensive cyber actions a day” - that’s 1.1 million a week, making it the the most targeted country in the region. This is an obvious problem as the country promises more a more digitized society as part of Saudi’s 2030 Vision. So as the lofty plans kick into action, the kingdom will need to reform outdated laws that are a mix of Sharia-based laws of privacy, telecommunications acts and an Anti-Cybercrime Law that has allowed for the persecution of activists for what they say was the promotion of “adultery, homosexuality, and atheism”. Grand plans need grand protection. Effective protection will need comprehensive and reformed laws.

And while we’re on the topic of cyber security: What happened, Telegram?? Iranian hackers were found to have cracked more than 12 Telegram accounts and uncovered 15 million Iranian users’ numbers this week. The breach marks the encrypted messaging service’s biggest hit thus far. It’s especially troubling that it took place in Iran where freedom of speech is a problem. Websites like Facebook and Twitter are also blocked. There was no word on whether the hackers were from the Iranian government.  

In Africa, mobile users are doing just fine. More than fine. In just two years, smartphone connections doubled in the continent. Egypt, Nigeria and South Sudan are the most dominant markets. According to a recent GSMA Intelligence report, the region is adding another half a billion smartphone connections by 2020. While Africa has lagged behind other regions of the world in mobile adoption, the time is now for mobile based startups, interested VCs and telecom companies interested in our neighboring region. For more details of Africa’s mobile transformation, read the full report here.

Summary of mobile economy in Africa and its projections for 2020. [Chart via GSMA Intelligence]

Digital drama alert: Instagram is copying Snapchat. The social media world has gone mad and the cold war rivalry between the two visual-based social media services could turn into a full fledged war. With no apologies about it, Instagram’s CEO admitted Snapchat “deserves all the credit” for the their new feature, which also disappears in 24 hours. Fans of the services are left wondering not if the ballsy move was legal (it is), but if it was ‘right’. Whatever the case, there is no alternative to dogface filters and flower crowns. Snapchat users aren’t going anywhere.

What’s an elevated bus? China launched the TEB-1, this week. It’s a bus that is elevated as other cars drive under it… while the bus is still driving. Just look at the picture. And read the comments on the side because those were our thoughts exactly… FAQ section anyone?

Car ran under the world's first transit elevated bus, TEB-1 launched Tuesday in Qinhuangdoa, China. [Image via China Xinhua News]


From us to you: the heart isn’t always where the dollar is. San Francisco-based Lebanese entrepreneur Elie Khoury is the founder of Woopra, a real-time analytics model for companies to track their customers’ behavior. Although launching in Beirut, the country’s infrastructure just couldn’t cope with how fast their business was growing. And with over 100,000 users based in the US, they decided to move to Silicon Valley. “I love my country. But Woopra has a better chance of competing if it’s in the major league,” Khoury said. Moral of the story is: don’t wait for clients to come to you, go to where your clients are.  

But allow your eyes to shift to elsewhere Silicon hopefuls to… Deutschland, vielleicht? As reward for you getting through this roundup, take a look at this video on how Berlin is trying to garner the attention of more VCs and perhaps, your next startup? You’re welcome.






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